Salient (magazine)

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Salient logo 2014.png
The cover of Salient magazine 11 April 2005, designed by Dave Batt
The cover of Salient magazine 11 April 2005
  • Cam Price
  • Duncan McLachlan
News editor Sophie Boot
Creative editor Chloe Davies
Staff writers
  • Philip McSweeney (chief)
  • Penny Gault
  • Alex Hollis
Frequency Weekly (during non-summer trimesters)
Circulation 16,000[1]
Year founded 1938
Company Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association
Based in Wellington, New Zealand
OCLC number 227003028

Salient is the weekly students' magazine of the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (VUWSA) at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Salient was established in 1938[2] and originally published in newspaper format, but is now published as a magazine. Salient's style and editorial position can change from year to year due to changes in editors. However, the magazine has generally taken a left-wing stance.



The Salient editor-in-chief is an employee of VUWSA operating under a charter that grants editorial independence. The editor is appointed and employed under a fixed term contract that covers roughly the beginning to end of the academic year. Previous involvement with the magazine is not a prerequisite for applicants, although most have had some role at Salient prior to their editorship. At various times in Salient's history, and consistently since 2011, the editorship has been shared between two people.

The editors for 2014 are Cam Price and Duncan McLachlan.[3]

Notable past editors include former Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, editor of Metro magazine Simon Wilson, Queen's Counsel Hugh Rennie, and New Zealand Listener writer Toby Manhire.[4]


Salient news is predominately focused on student issues, the students' association, and the university itself. However, Salient has also reported on national and international items outside of "student" issues. For instance there was significant coverage of the Iraq invasion in 2003.

The News Editor for 2014 is Sophie Boot.

Salient is a member of the Aotearoa Student Press Association (ASPA), which has intermittently had a press gallery journalist in the New Zealand House of Representatives. As Salient is based in Wellington, the ASPA press gallery associate has typically doubled-up as the news editor for Salient. The current press gallery representative is Sophie Boot.[5]


Salient's retired 2013 logo

Salient employs a full-time designer who is responsible for the look of the magazine. Because the designer is typically employed for only a one-year term, the visual aesthetic of the magazine can change significantly from year to year.

The designer for 2014 is Imogen Temm.


Salient has been a home to a number of comics and cartoons, and they traditionally have their place on the last page of the magazine. Past comics such as ASCII and Grant Buist's Brunswick have won critical praise and/or awards, with ASCII winning an Aotearoa Student Press Association (ASPA) award in 2005.

Partial list of comics from recent years:


As well as publishing in print, Salient operates a frequently updated website. In 2013, the Salient website was redeveloped, and won the award for best website at the ASPAs.[9]


The student magazine of Victoria University of Wellington has been published under a number of different titles since the early twentieth century: Spike (1902–1964), Smad (1930–1937), and finally Salient (1938–).[10]

Salient was originally published in newspaper format, but is now published as a magazine and online.

ASPA Awards[edit]

Salient has participated in the ASPA Student Media Awards since their inception in 2003. The magazine dominated the first two years of the awards winning amongst other categories Best Publication in 2003 and 2004. Otago's Critic is generally seen as Salient's strongest competition and in 2005 turned the tables, sweeping a number of categories including Best Publication with Salient coming second. Critic won Best Publication again in 2006 and Salient came second.

In 2009, Salient won the award for Best Publication. Salient dominated these awards with five first places and eight other placings.[11] In 2011, Salient also won best publication. However in both 2012 and 2013 Salient has been runners-up in best publication to Critic.


Fee rise leak and court injunction[edit]

In September 2005, the Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University obtained a court injunction to prevent an issue of Salient from being distributed[12][13] - thought to be the first time in the magazine's history this has happened. The issue of Salient contained information obtained from leaked University Council documents with details about possible university fee increases of 5 to 10 percent. The controversy made national media, with several items on the television news. The university failed to realise that information was put on to the ASPA newswire, hence the information was published in several other student magazines and on the internet. Distribution of Salient was eventually allowed, four days late after Salient and the university reached an out-of-court settlement. The documents were returned to the university, reportedly with pictures of male genitalia drawn over them.[14]

Listing of Chinese people as a species to be wary of[edit]

In April 2006, Salient published a short piece which put "Chinese", along with animals like poisonous snakes and penguins, in a list of "top five species we should be wary of". The supposed "joke" upset the Chinese community and caused huge protests from both Chinese students and the Chinese Embassy. Accused of being blatantly racist, editor James Robinson apologised, saying "It was a ridiculous jab that was honestly so stupid I didn't even think twice about it." However, he argued people who were offended had misinterpreted it: "We put 'the Chinese' between 'penguins' and 'very poisonous snakes' on the list, and people somehow took it seriously." He also defended his right to publish it, saying "It's not hate speech or inciting violence against the Chinese race. It would be a dangerous precedent to come out and say, 'Sorry, we were totally out of our minds to print such a thing'."[15]

Naked Hu Jintao cover[edit]

In May 2008, Salient published a feature article concerning the rise of China as a new world superpower. To promote this article the cover that week depicted a naked, yet to be identified, Salient staffer draped in a Chinese flag, with Hu Jintao's face photoshopped onto their own. The cover invoked a strong reaction from the Wellington Chinese community, with pro-China students removing the magazine from distribution at the University's Karori Campus. Following this disruption, the Chinese Students' Association of Victoria University presented a petition of 133 signatures calling for an apology. To date, Salient has not apologised.[16] Responses from the Chinese community were mixed, with some commentators mentioning that this controversial cover (in conjunction with the 2006 satirical comparison of Chinese to dangerous animals) resulted in a possible ban on Salient writers travelling to China.[citation needed]

Lundy 500[edit]

In July 2009, Salient editor Jackson Wood courted controversy by announcing the "Lundy 500", an event whereby "teams of vehicles ... [would] travel from Petone to Palmerston North as convicted double murderer Mark Lundy did in 2000, before murdering wife Christine and daughter Amber, according to the prosecution at his 2002 trial." Participants were tasked with doing the trip in 68 minutes or less, the same time Lundy is argued to have driven the distance. Wood argued that the "event was designed to draw attention to some of the inconsistencies in the New Zealand legal system", and emphasised that he wasn't encouraging anyone to break the law.[17] However, the proposed event was harshly criticised in the media,[18][19] and on August 2, it was announced that the event was to be cancelled. Wood apologised to the Lundy family and wrote that: "He acknowledged that their viewpoints were not adequately taken into account before the event was announced on Friday, and that there were other ways for this point to be communicated".[20]


  1. ^ "Advertising". Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  2. ^ "History of VUWSA". Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association. 
  3. ^ Stella Blake-Kelly; Molly McCarthy (23 September 2013). "Editorial – Victoria University". Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  4. ^ Du Fresne, Karl (11 February 2012). "Salient magazine breeds ruling elite". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "Press Gallery List". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "Laura Burns on Behance". 
  7. ^ "Salient magazine". 
  8. ^ "Salient magazine". 
  9. ^ "Excellence in student media recognised". 6 October 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  10. ^ Hamilton, Stephen (2002). A Radical Tradition: A History of the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association. Wellington: Steele Roberts Publishers and VUWSA. p. 225. ISBN 1-877228-72-9. 
  11. ^ "Salient wins best publication", Salient Magazine 2009. Retrieved 14 September 2008.
  12. ^ Ng, Keith (3 October 2005). "We interrupt your regular programming...". Public Address. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  13. ^ "University wins court bid to stop student magazine publishing". New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 3 October 2005. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  14. ^ McCarthy, Molly (18 March 2013). "A Salient Birthday". Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  15. ^ Cheng, Derek (13 May 2006). "Joke about Chinese backfires on university". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  16. ^ Choi, Seonah (7 July 2008). "Chinese students angry about naked president". Salient. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  17. ^ "Something big has arrived: Salient announces Lundy 500". 31 July 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  18. ^ "Students call off Lundy 500". 2 August 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  19. ^ "'Lundy 500' not welcome here - Mayor". Manawatu Standard. Fairfax media. 1 August 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  20. ^ "Lundy 500 cancelled". 2 August 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 

External links[edit]